Believe it or not it is fairly easy to avoid citations regarding lockout/tagout or LOTO procedures. However, despite the simplistic nature of enacting and following an effective LOTO plan, an estimated 50,000 injuries and 120 fatalities are reported each year. This is simply unacceptable. There is some sort of glitch in the system with so many LOTO related accidents. One of the main culprits could be communication paired with proper training. If employees are not adequately trained on the importance of LOTO procedures they may take them for granted and not perform them properly.
Consistency is key to achieving an effective LOTO program. There are several steps in the LOTO process and it may be easy to cut corners sometimes to simply save time and energy. However, when certain LOTO safety steps are overlooked you are setting the stage for disaster. Let’s review the steps of LOTO that should be followed EACH and EVERY time.
OSHA estimates the Lockout/Tagout standard prevents 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries annually. This FREE guide provides a 5-step plan for Lockout/Tagout compliance, as well as other information regarding LOTO practices.
Prepare the Equipment for Shutdown – No, the equipment is not going to properly shutdown itself. Instead an employee must prepare for the shutdown which includes knowing and understanding the energy being dealt with and how it can be safely controlled.
Shutting down the Equipment – All affectedemployees should be informed of the LOTO procedure that is going to take place and that work will cease on the equipment until the procedure is complete. Then the equipment should be shut down suitably using the accepted method of shutdown so the risk of endangerment to others is relatively low.
Isolation of Equipment/Energy – All energy should be isolated on both primary and secondary levels.
LOTO Device Application – When a LO system is used, each employee working with the equipment should attach a lock. It is important to note that a TO system is not an acceptable form of protection when working with hazardous equipment unless there no possibility of locking the equipment. When locks can’t be utilized to block certain hazardous energy points, items such as valve covers may be used.
Release of Stored Energy –During this stage the equipment should be inspected to make sure all parts of the equipment are still and not in movement. Then the energy can be safely released, however it is important to consistently monitor the energy as further energy can continue to build even while the equipment is not operative. Common types of energy needing dispersal include stored energy in springs, hydraulics, gas or water pressure, etc.
Verification of Equipment Isolation – This step involves looking around to make sure that no other employees unknowingly wondered back into the hazardous area. Furthermore, the equipment itself should be verified for inertia, attempts to restart the equipment should be made by pressing start or turning on the equipment. If the equipment does not respond, all controls should be placed back on off and this step is complete. The equipment is ready for servicing.
Equipment Restoration – When it is time to restore the equipment back to working order the first step is to inform affected employees of the impeding restart. All tools should be removed from the equipment and all safety guards and devices should be back to fully operational levels. Lastly, each employee should remove his or her lock and tag, then the equipment can be restarted.
If the proper steps are taken each and every time, the LOTO process can be successful almost each and every time. The process is very clear, concise, and fairly simple. Don’t jeopardize the safety of employees or accumulate OSHA citations by not following the appropriate LOTO steps, take the time to utilize LOTO procedures effectively. Make sure to check out our related posts from this week